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Turn Tragedy Into Inspiration

I’m a big fan of Betta fish. I keep them as pets, I’m fairly knowledgeable about them, and someday I’d like to breed them. Up until recently, I’d never really thought about using my hobby for niche website development.

Then, last night, my Betta died. He’d been fighting some mystery illness for nearly a week, and even though I used every treatment method I could think of, it didn’t help. At this point, I’m pretty sure it was a bacterial infection that resulted in kidney failure, although with the symptoms he had, I can’t be 100% sure. Anyway, after he died, I did all kinds of searching on Google to find a cure in case the problem came up in a future pet.

What I found was…interesting. I’m not talking about the disease, I’m talking about the niche. There are a lot of Betta lovers out there, and very few sites dedicated to them. A little more research revealed that most Betta fans like showing off their Bettas. At this point, wheels were turning in my head. How could I capitalize on an untapped niche, specifically one whose members love sharing pictures? My mind immediately went to Hot or Not, or more generally, rated image sites. People love those things, right? I did a little digging and came up with a free PHP script that was basically a Hot or Not clone. After many hours battling with the poorly-documented installation manual, I managed to get a new site off the ground: RateMyBetta.org. .com is parked and .net is taken. This is why I hate domain parking.

Anyway, with my site working, I needed traffic. I announced my new site on a couple of forums that I regularly visit, and sent an email off to the owner of a hugely popular Betta site (and it bounced. Upon closer inspection, I found that the site is seven years old, and hasn’t been updated in who knows how long). More searching dug up a rather large forum dedicated to Bettas, so I joined and made my announcement there as well. As I type this, I’m getting a new member every ten minutes or so, so I’d say that last idea was a good one.

My number one priority right now is attracting new members. After that, link building. I won’t be happy until that site ranks well for keywords like “betta pictures” and “betta information”. The script I’m using is very flexible, allowing for lots of user-generated content. It comes with built-in forum functionality as well as giving each user a ‘mini-blog’. With enough time, I think this site could become very big in the Betta niche.

Of course, that leaves one big question: How to monetize? Right now, I’m not even thinking about it. I genuinely enjoy Bettas, so I’m not going to try to squeeze money out of the site yet (those adsense ads up top were built in to the template, so I’m just leaving them). Who know though: In a few months this site could end up working very well for me.

Hooray for untapped niches.

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4 Responses to “Turn Tragedy Into Inspiration”

  1. Matt Marcin Says:

    I wouldn’t try to monetize the site just yet. Down the line once youhave a user base think about finding Betta products on Amazon.com and cleverly inserting adsense blocks into your content pages. With some work you could make it into a pretty nice little cash machine!

  2. Make Money Online with Homebizseo Says:

    Great idea. Where did you get the template from for the site. Does the template allow more google placements. Or Affiliate blocks. Email me with more info.

  3. C-Squared Says:

    Get a Betta Wiki. Then you’ll have the users creating half of the content for you. :D

  4. Celebrity Pictures Says:

    Great post. My wife had a betta which she would take care of every day. At one point, it went blind (so we think!) and we got some medicine… forget what it was called… to make it better and it started responding to us again. Then mysteriously one day, it died, and my wife just cried. When I saw her come out of the room, I knew what happened. Kinda sad. Even yesterday, she wanted me to take her to get her another betta. I’ll definitely be posting a pic of our new betta on your site!

    BTW - Can you send me a copy of that PHP script you used for this site? I’ve been looking around for something that replicates the HOT or Not site concept.


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